In the sixteenth century, as the Bellini seeds matured, two names in Venetian painting are so inextricably linked they must be discussed as if they were one--Giorgio da Castelfranco (known as Giorgione), and Tiziano Vecelli (known as Titian). Both men were born within a year of each other around 1478. Giorgione died from the black plague in 1510. He was 32. Titian, however, went on to a long and illustrious career, living to the ripe old age of 98. Both had studied under Giovanni Bellini and by the time Giorgione died, their style was so identical Titian was able to complete one of his friend's commissions. So brief was Giorgione's life, only four or five paintings are attributed to him, while Titian's number in the hundreds.
One of Titian's most interesting works is Venus with a Mirror painted around 1555. The painting depicts a rather voluptuous seminude Venus attended by two cupids supporting a mirror in which is seen an oblique reflection of the goddess of love. Although the work is typical of the rich, glazing effects that make Venetian oil painting so distinctively beautiful, what's most interesting about THIS work is what you DON'T see. The painting, rendered on a vertical plane, was originally a double portrait painted on a horizontal format. Apparently Titian was quite fond of a hand and arm grasping a velvet coat that swept up over the man's shoulder in the earlier work. He kept this section of the first painting as the appendage of his Venus holding the same velvet garment used to cover her lower extremities while painting out the rest of the double portrait. This has been confirmed by x-rays which, in fact, show that an even OLDER painting exists beneath the partially obscured double portrait.